No 140-character answers for Obama at Twitter town hall
July 5th, 2011
12:23 PM ET

No 140-character answers for Obama at Twitter town hall

The Obama White House, which likes to consider itself pioneers in the realm of social media, will make history of sorts once again Wednesday when it hosts what’s being called the first ever White House Twitter town hall.

But those who hope this president, known for his oft- lengthy responses to even the shortest of questions, is confined to Twitter’s 140-character limit will be sorely disappointed. The president is merely answering questions selected from Twitter users, not responding on the social media site itself.

Indeed, with the exception of questions coming from Twitter users (or, tweeps), the East Room town hall event will be like many this president has done before: fielding pre-selected questions conveyed via new media technologies while giving “old-fashioned” answers with a microphone.

“He's just answering the questions. He's not typing and tweeting,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said of the event Friday. Still the event is a major coup for the five-year old company that was barely on the radar only one campaign cycle ago.

White House officials have also said the so-called “Tweetup” is a fresh opportunity for the president to engage with Americans beyond the Beltway. The event will also feature an audience of about 140 individuals (no, not a coincidence that's the number of characters allowed in a tweet) who regularly follow the White House twitter feed and signed up for a chance to attend the event via the White House Web site.

But the event’s ultimate gatekeeper will be Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who is tasked with monitoring the expected flood of tweets that will stream in attached with the official #AskObama hash tag. The White House has also said the president will only entertain questions about jobs and the economy and the questions will be drawn for a “geographically diverse” pool.

Obama held a similar Facebook town hall at the web giant’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California in the Spring and a YouTube town hall at the White House in February. At both events, the White House was criticized for ignoring the subject that drew by far the most queries: whether he supports legalizing marijuana.

Though the president rarely tweets himself, the administration has increasingly embraced the social media network as a way to bypass traditional media outlets and convey information directly to supporters. Several senior administration officials now tweet regularly, including White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer and Press Secretary Jay Carney.

Topics: President Obama • The News

soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. cobra

    The thing has nothing important to say unless it is "I resign".

    July 5, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Sarah

      You're disgustingly negative. He's not a thing- he's the president of the United States of America

      July 5, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • maikl

      I agree and hope so.

      July 5, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
      • jean2009

        You could hold your breath.

        July 5, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • george

      @ cobra who exactly are you refering to as the thing?

      July 5, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
      • Sank

        Now George your not really that dumb.

        July 5, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  2. TexasJack

    Of course he is too much of a coward and aliar to answer any question truthfully.

    July 5, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • TexasJack

      Why must my comments stay in moderation and then never be posted. Is it because i say negative remarks toward the fraud Obama?

      July 5, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  3. Branden

    Perhaps the Obama White House can hire Sara Palin to translate his lengthly, well-thought-out articulate answers in to her language of choice, idiotic Twitter-talk.

    July 5, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  4. donnamarinchekmarn01

    I'm not happy...with too many people in that White House...Right Now!!

    July 5, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  5. Diane

    @ cobra....."Your mama!" She must be a 'thing', to have "birthed" your ignorant Ass! You don't have to like the president, but, you should respect the office and the fact that he is a human being...and his blood is the same color as yours-unless you really are a 'cobra'!!!!

    July 5, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  6. Linda

    WHAT is the point? For two days the banner on CNN said that the founder of Twitter will choose the questions that Obama will answer. Then, after two days, that beginning of the banner mysteriously disappeared. WALLAH! More disappearing info about the missing President just like the travel expenses list that WE pay. We will never know all the shenanigans but we sure know how much it's costing us and the next few generations.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  7. AJ

    What happened to transparency in government is twitter the best you can do. Stop coprruption and save our chance at democracy if it is still available.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  8. Dyanne


    July 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  9. nat

    I believe in Obama. His role in leadership has had a direct effect on me because of the Home Loan Modification Programs. Where are the millions of people who benefited from that? They need to speak up and stop letting the Obama-Busters to be the only representatives of Obama's role in Leadership.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  10. francois

    I am dying to know what will the questions

    July 5, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  11. Jennyvee

    Obama, how about those bonuses Congress dished out to employees how about those savings, Oh i guess they do not have to suffer like us little american peons? maybe thier children don't go to bed hungry like those homeless children in Seminole from Dateline because we the peons are the ones that take care of things.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  12. cindy

    cobra-that was so uncalled for. I am thankful there is a way to communicate with and that it is safe for our President. Unfortunately there will be comments from others like cobra

    July 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  13. justsayin

    Ok Obama~
    Here's my idea~ hire Suzy Orman! She'll fix you and the financial problems of our country! She's helped millions of people. You're not an accountant! Take my advice

    July 5, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  14. NJBChicago

    Whatever. This guy is toast if the American people can pull themselves up by the boot straps and quit making excuses for this guy and vote someone with different solutions into the White House next year. He can tweet all he wants and put himself on facebook and campaign all he wants but we all know that those things so early in the game take his eye off the ball.....doing the right thing for this country. Vote him out America. We need to put this country back on the right track.

    July 5, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  15. tony evans

    Why come we cant bring our jobs back to the united states

    July 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  16. anonymous

    Just so anyone interested will know. The rights and sexual preferences of gays are not exactly on the top of our list of priorities. We are a little more interested in the plight of those living beings currently being abused, be it humans or otherwise. Hope you understand. If not, who cares.

    July 5, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  17. BLC

    millennium, progress approach

    July 5, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  18. kiddjeremy

    I`ts on the table for u critis in plain view to see. talk now.

    July 5, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  19. Jermaine

    He is doing a great job! Give credit where it is due.

    July 5, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
  20. george

    A 21st. century President indeed!!

    July 5, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  21. IKE

    Is Twitter or Tweeter?

    July 5, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • Sank

      Or is it lie now and I'll lie later if I can remember what I said the first time.

      July 5, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  22. Sazzad

    Mr. President, you are the best. Keep it going.

    July 5, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  23. AL

    One thing I can say about President Obama, he gave all the racist like Cobra to come out of the closet. It must feel pretty good to get out from under that sheet.

    July 5, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  24. Name*Gonzalo


    July 5, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  25. the roo

    Twat in Chief uses Twitter.

    July 6, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  26. Liz Carter in Georgia

    That is the truth! Come on out from out from under 'them' sheets and hoods! You sick, pathetic American 'PATRIOTS'! You're shameless! GOD hep you; and GOD bless the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, PLEASE!

    July 6, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  27. Aaron Holmes

    Poor news – Syria's 'mutilation mystery' increases...

    December 17, 2011 at 10:25 am |